Russian President Vladimir Putin says people like FIFA boss Sepp Blatter deserve a Nobel Prize for his stewardship of soccer's governing body. (RTS/swissinfo.ch)
Putin made the comments in an interview aired by Swiss public television, RTS. The Russian leader also said he did not believe Blatter was personally involved in the corruption scandal surrounding football's governing body.
Blatter announced he was quitting his job as president of FIFA in June over a bribery scandal being investigated by the United States and Switzerland, which plunged the organisation into its worst ever crisis.
International football officials were indicted but Blatter himself was not, and he denies any misconduct.
In May, when the scandal broke, Putin harshly criticised the US investigation into FIFA as meddling in matters that were beyond its jurisdiction.
He repeated that criticism in the Swiss TV interview and widened it to include Britain, noting that those two countries had bid to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
”The way there is this fight against corruption makes me wonder if it isn't a continuation of the bids for 2018 and 2022," Putin commented.